By Krystal Lambert
I’ve had a friend crush on Chelsea Handler for many years now, mostly because her dry, give-zero-shits sense of humor sort of mirrors my own. Chelsea has long been known for being blunt about her drinking and sexing habits and not apologizing for a damn thing. I’ve always respected this about her because there is something so refreshing and comforting about seeing another human being admit to being a mess. We are all messes, of course, but being a celebrity means you are expected to be perfect at all times and scrutinized incessantly. It takes a lot of courage to be real and vulnerable, and even more so when you are in the spotlight.
Last year Chelsea broke with her E contract and started a new talk show on Netflix. She made it clear that she did this so she could have more creative control and freedom than she had previously had. My friends and I quickly became obsessed with this show for multiple reasons. Chelsea was honest and witty as ever, but the central theme of her show was clearly politics and social justice issues. Even when she has a celebrity actor or actress on, the topic usually shifts to what important difference they are trying to make in the world, rather than whatever movie they are starring in. She also made it clear that as a rich, privileged white woman she was willing to admit her own ignorance and wanted to make this new show an opportunity to educate herself about the issues our country is facing. Many of her guests were politicians, climate scientists, women, LGBTQ advocates and so on. Chelsea wanted to use this show as an opportunity to become more aware and educated on the issues facing this country and the world, and invited us all along for the journey. She also has fun dinner parties on the show, where people with all manner of beliefs and backgrounds are invited to dine with her and round-table important issues while also getting tipsy on wine.
Aside from the show, Chelsea has always been a huge advocate for women and Planned Parenthood. This year for her birthday, she asked her fans to donate $5 to PP. This January, she was one of the leaders of the Sundance version of The Women’s March, where she was quoted: “We experienced a huge setback, but the only thing to do when you have been set back is to step forward, continue to fight and use your voice, if there is a silver lining to be found in this past election, it is that it opened our eyes to the amount of work that still needs to be done. If the election had gone the other way, maybe we would’ve grown complacent. So the groundswell that we needed from that election is happening now.”
As she is a rich, privileged white women, it is easy brush her off or throw her in the White Feminism category. I don’t accept this assessment of her because she is one of the most passionate, outspoken supporters of human rights and as a celebrity she is using her platform for good. Anyone who watches a few episodes of her Netflix show could see she is aware of her privilege and wants to use it to shine a light on racism, sexism, and hate in all its forms. If anything, she is an example of what white women should be doing, fighting for everyone and not just ourselves. Many of you may have seen the instagram video she posted in early February that went pretty viral. You can watch it here:
If you don’t have time to watch it, here is what she says:
“I had a friend today tell me that I was being too political, that I was being too aggressive, I am a white woman and I have a lot of privilege. I make a lot of money and I don’t have a lot of problems. And a lot of what this administration has proposed thus far won’t even affect me personally, I don’t need Planned Parenthood — I can pay for my own medical care. I’m not an immigrant — I was born here. I’m not Muslim, I’m not Mexican. I’m not black. I’m not gay or I’m not transgender, But I know this country is based on inclusiveness, on welcoming people, on loving people that are not like you, on not worrying about how something impacts your life personally, but how it impacts all the people around you and all the people that aren’t around you, It’s compassion and it’s empathy. And I will fight for it. If I come off as being aggressive, it’s because I care so much about doing the right thing.”
Another reason we love and look up to Chelsea is that she is a proud, 41 year old single lady *insert emoticon of lady running in red dress* who doesn’t apologize for not wanting kids. She is a strong example to women who feel forced into a box by society. Most of my adult life I have known I did not want kids and find myself explaining that to more people than I should have to. Chelsea makes me feel like I can be whoever I want and I don’t owe shit to anyone but myself. We need more female role models who aren’t mothers, for those of us who can’t have children or simply don’t want to. The stereotype of the “spinster” or “old maid” which refers to women past the age of 30 who are single and/or without children is misogynistic, oppressive, and hurtful to all women. We love how Chelsea gives that idea the finger any chance she gets. For these reasons, and so many more, Chelsea Handler is our Feminist of the Month.